An Appetite for Apps: How Mobile Consumed Everything
There’s an app for everything. But of course, that’s not really saying anything new. You’ll
hear it all the time these days. Whether it’s in response to amazement from the kinds of
apps that label stars as your camera scans the night sky or confoundment over the fact
that a stapler simulator app actually exists, it’s safe to say that every smartphone owner
has said that phrase at one point or another.
A problem exists here, however. These peaks and depths of our technological
advancement alone do not reveal the full impact mobile technology has had on our
A Technological Shift
There is no parallel to this massive impact. Regardless of what all-in-one device of the
past you measure it against, mobile is still connected to a nebulous and ever-changing
atmosphere being made better everyday by the world at large. No gadget or machine
has had such a knack for adaptation and utility in all of human history.
But what about something fun to compare some minor similarities to? The humble
Trapper Keeper seems like a good place to start. A fond memory for teenagers in the
80’s, Trapper Keepers were a kid’s most secure place to hide their schoolwork and
important documents, but more importantly where you could hide all those notes that
you passed with the boy/girl in chemistry class.
Now, however, all those notes from class are documents on your Google Drive app, the
built-in calculator has been turned into an app, and all those perfectly folded notes are
now part of embarrassing text threads so old that no one could find them (as they should
Smartphone apps are more than just the collection of consolidated information; they
locate new information using a myriad of unique pathways. One of the unfortunate side
effects of which is “clickbait,” a term for all the low quality, highly sensationalized, and
often misleading ads and links that crowd web pages all over the Internet.
Thankfully, at its root, and in majority, are a countless number of pathways both
implemented and generated by programmers trying to help you find more of what you’re
looking to find. One of the most straightforward examples of this is found on
Thesaurus.com. A surprisingly perfect parallel to how digital technology brings you to
pages similar to what you’re already looking at, the thesaurus brings you to words similar
in meaning to the one you type in.
Taking a step back, you can apply this to almost all the information you consume using a
smartphone. Looking for Chinese food on Yelp, browsing retweets from those you follow,
and finding that one actor from that one movie on IMDb. It’s all connected and it makes
up what we call the web, a subtly different but equally important concept in
understanding modern society.
But Why Does it Matter?